Editorial on ELTNEWS.com
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Finally deciding to join the EFL conversation from 2006 was a daunting task. It took 15 years to muster up enough courage to share my opinions on teaching and learning. These fears were among the garden-variety, “I wasn’t a trained teacher, so I must not have anything useful to say” Sounds pretty silly now, but I wonder who else feels this way? In this first editorial, I will introduce a bit of my history, expose my initial fears and confess my hopes regarding this new venture within ELT News.

Memories: circa 1989

Back in 1989, teaching my small classes or private lessons was less about actually teaching and more about simply giving students some real practice time using English. I began teaching solo at a private junior & senior high school (JSHS) in 1992. The principal told me that a good teacher was strict, but kind. Within days, I realized that in any given class, about 20% of students hated English and they could really cause problems. Therefore, motivating students, learning classroom management and developing my own teaching technique were vitally important. I shudder to think back to some of the meaningless hoops that I forced students to jump through while I was learning to be a teacher.

I also remember being told that as I became a better teacher, my students would naturally learn more. All that focus on me actually allowed everyone (including me) to ignore whether any actual learning was taking place in my classroom. My MA TEFL studies led me into a total paradigm shift. The focus is no longer on my teaching, but now entirely on their learning. I spend most of my energy observing classroom interaction (T-S, and S-S), getting them started on something and trying to stay out of the way as much as possible.

For many of us, teaching means a never-ending commitment to learning.

If you think that you want to get more out of teaching, then simply get more involved and go deeper. You’ll not only grow as a teacher but you’ll get more friends, more confidence and many more happy days at work. I’ve gotten more in the past 3 years through my involvement with the MA TEFL program at the University of Birmingham, ELT News, JALT and MASH Collaboration than I ever could have imagined.

That’s why I’ve decided to get more involved here in ELT News. I’m hoping that I can make a bunch of new friends and colleagues in 2010. There are a number of ways to get involved with us: from simply reading around the website and sending in comments to starting your own new column.

Make this your decade… Go deeper.

Steven Herder

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